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Team of Durand & Stamps Win the 2003 Fishers of Men Season Kick-Off
By Patty Lenderman

February 1, 2003 will be a date to remembered in our history books. Thirty two teams came to fish the season kick-off for the East Texas division of Fishers of men, some driving as far as 247 miles to participate. They came to launch their boats at the public boat ramp near Twin Dikes Marina on lake Sam Rayburn before dawn, and Duck Wright, tournament director, had to delay the take-off due to the heavy fog that had settled in. No one could have prepared themselves for the tragedy that happened just after 8:00am while they waited. The space shuttle Columbia was making their re-entry across our skies on their way back home when disaster struck as the shuttle exploded into thousands of pieces and rained debris across three states. Everyone heard the roar of the explosions, and some in dis-belief thought, if not hoped, that it was thunder. It was not. Seven astronauts lost their lives in the catastrophe. Officials of every capacity were putting the public on alert to watch for and report any and all debris found from this terrible loss.

Slowly the fog lifted, and by 9:30 the boats were released for take-off with a weigh in time of 4:30. Understandably the anglers were not "on their game today", with the sadness of the loss on their minds and it showed as they came to the scales to weigh in their catch. This, coupled with the lingering fog patches with high pressure blue bird skies to follow, the anglers had a tough day of it. There were only five limits brought to the scales and it was the team of Larry Stamps and Mark Durand who brought in the 12.66 lbs to take first place of the tournament. Mark reported that they broke off two big bass and lost another before getting anything to their live well. Their catch came on Carolina rigged watermelon flukes, tail dipped in chartreuse. Fishing 20' depths near main lake brush and timber, their best bite came between 10:30-11:30, the fish already biting when they finally got to their fishing spot. They had a full limit by 3:00 and were able to cull twice to their final weight.

1st place - $896.00 - 12.66 lbs - Mark Durand / Larry Stamps
2nd place - $512.00 - 11.98 lbs - Randy Lewis / Frank Williams
3rd place - $384.00 - 11.74 lbs - John Olive / Jay Olive
4th place - $307.20 - 10.05 lbs - Gordon McBride / Donald Richardson
5th place - $256.00 - 8.16 lbs - Joe Nance / Garrett Nance
6th place - $204.80 - 7.88 lbs - Kenny Vaugh / Jeremy Jenkins
7th place - Batteries - 7.40 lbs - Lonnie Stanley / Randy Hanna

Big Bass:
1st place - 4.65 lbs - $192.00 - Perry Curry / Charles Michalak
2nd place - 4.40 lbs - $128.00 - Joe Nance / Garrett Nance
3rd place - 3.70 lbs - Rods - John Olive / Jay Olive

The Fishers of Men Team tournament trail pays one place per five entries at every tournament. This year Bass Pro Shops have come on board as a national sponsor as well as incorporating a new bonus program from Triton boats called "Triton Gold". Every tournament with at least 60 boats participating is eligible for this program for Triton boat owners who have pre-registered at www.TritonBoats.com. If a registered angler wins first place in an eligible tournament, they will receive an additional $1,000 from Triton. Any angler who wins in a Triton Gold event will be eligible to fish the Triton Elite Tournament to be held in 2004 for a chance to win $100,000.00. This is a brand new program and the information did not, unfortunately, get into the Fishers of Men 2003 brochures.

Al Odom is the National Director and Founder of the Fishers of Men Ministries tournament trail. When asked how all of this got started, he smiled and told this story: "I was sitting in church listening to the pastor give his sermon one Sunday. The sermon covered the passage of Matthew 4:19 as Jesus was gathering the first three of His disciples, who were fishermen. He said 'Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men'. I got to thinking about that, being an avid fisherman and tournament angler myself. Later the pastor came and told me about a tournament with Jimmy Houston hosting as weigh master and I got this idea. Through the fellowship of anglers our Ministries can reach and touch so many lives with a Fishers of Men tournament trail. The first tournament was held in 1996 at Santee Cooper in South Carolina. The trail itself began in 1998 and has gone from 4 to 40 divisions since then with over 3,000 anglers participating." Al was a full time teacher and coach for over 17 years. Having a wife and four children, the decision he was faced with in 2000 with this growing trail needing full time attention was a scary one. Putting his faith in God, he resigned his teaching career to go to full time ministry through Fishers of Men. "God has blessed me with the opportunity to meet and share with so many people" Al said.

The participants must fish at least three tournaments to qualify for the championship. Twenty five teams from each division will advance to fish for over $35,000.00 in cash and prizes, including a fully rigged Triton TR-185 bass boat with a 150 HP Mercury motor. The next event for the East Texas division will be March 29 at Richland Chambers. For more information please contact Duck Wright at 409-489-6400 or visit their website for more information, tournament and YTD standings at www.fishersofmenministries.com.

Sponsors include: Triton Boats - Mercury Outboards - Anglers Advantage Insurance - Strike King Lure Co. - Spike It Bait Co. - Marshall's Marine Lake City, SC - Kistler Rods - Wake Runner - Lucky Craft Lures - Jones Chevrolet - Mad Man Lures - Dave's Tournament Tackle - Stanley Jigs - Deka Marine Master Batteries - Ledgebuster Spinnerbaits - LifeWay - The Original Fish Formula Attractants - Sufix Fishing Line - Bass Pro Shops - Keep Alive Oxygen Infusor - Angler's Choice Bass Boat Superstore - Bass Rx - Lowrance - Rev Up Thirst Quencher - Jacobs Glass Co. - Doyle Hodgin Sports - Dual Pro Charger Batteries


Mark Durand and Larry Stamps show off their winning stringer with the help of the Assistand Tourn. Dir

Congratulations to the top 7 overall winners (top) and top 3 big bass winners (front)
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

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